Kaydon ran in front even though he had no clue where he was going. It was habit. Whenever they went outside back there, he always went first, even if he was in another part of the house when he heard the door open. He HAD to take the lead and get the smells, the sights, the squirrels first.
Where was he going now, though?
“Can I help you with directions?” Hugo gently teased from somewhere behind him.
Kaydon knew he was teasing but how? There was no teasing back there. And yet, it was kinda cool, having these expanded ways of connecting with each other. More, hmmm, nuanced. Ha! Nuanced. What kind of word was that, and how did he know it, wondered Kaydon.
Hugo ambled up beside him. “I promise it’ll be this one time only that I take the lead. Trust me, friend.” And with that, Hugo walked in front of him as Kaydon stood still, waiting to see where they would go.
Driver was up first. Fading into Kaydon’s awareness was a lush green meadow, thick with tall grasses waving in a whispering breeze. Then he saw Driver running across. That other dog who he saw with Hugo and that third dog, the one who looked like them. As this dog bounded closer, Kaydon sensed something about him, something even more nuanced – he liked using that word now – than Hugo’s teasing. As he struggled with this new sensation, he was interrupted by Driver.
“I’m so sorry. So very sorry indeed! Hugo said we’d both be waiting there for you when you awoke. I meant to be. You must be awfully cross with me. My name is Driver and I know you’re Kaydon!”
This dog sounds almost exactly like Simon does. Not like Hugo, or Kevin or me, a surprised Kaydon mused. He wasn’t mad, or cross, or anything like that with him. He didn’t know him. This feeling though…
“I’m not mad, umm, cross with you,” replied Kaydon. “It’s actually very nice to meet you.” He didn’t feel like elaborating yet on what he was sensing. It would help if he knew what it was before he said anything, he thought to himself.
“It’s a bond, is what it is!” shouted Driver excitedly. “I know what you’re thinking. There’s something you can’t put your finger on about me. It’s a kind of connection even though we’ve never met. We’re waiting on the same person – Simon!”
An annoyed Hugo glared briefly at Driver before remembering that he hadn’t had a pack of his own until Kaydon arrived. He knew that must have been tough, especially being one of those dogs who don’t remember how they got here.
“Driver, let’s give Kaydon a chance to settle in. He’s got a lot to learn and we don’t have to tell it all to him right now, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yes, yes, of course you’re right Hugo. I’m just so excited, my very own pack now.”
Pack? What is this all about, a bewildered Kaydon wondered. “Well now that he’s said it, you have to tell me,” demanded Kaydon.
He said it exactly as if he were barking from the front window at someone walking their dog on the sidewalk outside, back there. He was indignant, annoyed, and excited. It’s exactly how Hugo imagined he’d do it if he’d had a voice back there.
And so, although Hugo wanted to be the one to explain it all to Kaydon, he knew this was Driver’s job, just like it was for Hugo with him, and so on. He laid down in the whispering grass and listened as Driver explained it to Kaydon. And even though he knew they were waiting for different people, he was happy for Driver, happy to be reunited with his buddy, and relieved that his suffering back there was finished, forever.
He must have dozed off because when he woke up, Kaydon and Driver were nowhere in sight. He slowly rose, stretched a good, long stretch, snorted then looked around. As the drowsiness wore off, he saw them, there in the distance, at the other end of the tall, wavy grass. Tugging and growling at each other over a red, rubber disc were Kaydon and Driver. Hugo and Kaydon used to do this all the time, back there, back when they both felt good. Hugo had nearly forgotten how much fun they had. He always won – Kaydon couldn’t handle the pressure and gave in with a shriek-bark. He wondered how it would be now with Kaydon and Driver. What it would sound like now that Kaydon had words he could use. Who would win? Would it be more of an even match as part of a pack?
His heart overflowed. With happiness for Driver. That his buddy was here. That even though they weren’t part of the same pack, their own bond was going to carry them all the way to that moment and beyond, when a bewildered human appeared, and one of them would run up to him and start to spend the rest of forever together.